Quietly in far away Abaji Area Council of the FCT and buried in the centre of Yala community, is Leventis Foundation Agric School that has over the years trained over 500 youth from rural communities across the country in agriculture, JOHN OBA writes
Long before government’s clamour for youth engagement in agriculture, Leventis Group through its foundation, Leventis Foundation Agric Schools, spread across the country has engaged in free one year training of interested rural youths in the whole aspect of agriculture.
The youth are camped and fed daily coupled with N3000 stipend monthly allowance while they go through rigorous training that comprises 80% practical and 20% theory.
During a visit by Blueprint farmers focus which aims at giving a voice to farmers in the rural communities spoke to the FCT Principal of the school, Mrs Agnes Yusuf, the secretary and some students of the school.
The principal, told Blueprint that the major focus of the school is to empower youth through modern agricultural skills with the aim of eradicating poverty and make them self employed.
When it started
“The whole Leventis Foundation started in 1988 with the Ilesa school, we have six school, we have one in Kaduna, another in Gonbe state, another in Panda, Kano state, then one at Ilesa, Osun state, then this one here in the FCT, we have another at Idoani, but the one for FCT was established in 2008, and we have the capacity for training 100 per year in FCT while in the whole, the school have the capacity to train 800 animally. We also have our short courses, where we retrain our ex-students, and local farmers that did not fall within the age bracket and do not have the requirement to go through the normal one year programme. The age bracket of those eligible is between 18 and 40 years.
“We do a wholesome training, we train our students in every area of agriculture, we have animal production department, where we teach them poultry, bowlers, layers, cockerel. We also have fish production and management, small and large ruminants. Them we have the crops production department where they do the regular crops on the farms.
“So we expect that after graduation, they should be able to employ themselves in any area of agriculture they choose and employ others.” she said.
She explained that the students during the training year are taken through every aspect of the agriculture which is 80% practical and 20% theory. And at the end of the year, they are expected to give a business plan that will signify their area of specialisation.
She said the school has its microcredit schemes that help the students to startup and that they are also linked up with microfinance institutions that would help them. Adding that since the foundation is a charitable organisation every thing is given free to the students.
“The school is a boarding facility, therefore, everything is provided for them free.”
She stated further that after graduation the school also have extension visits to monitor how the students are doing on their farms while performance analysis is carried out which enable the school to organised training to address any deficiencies in them.
She said the school as at last year has trained over 570 students aside the short courses.
The secretary of the school, Mr James Owoicho, said the challenge the school is faced with is lack of farm land, as the current farm land is weak since it has been in use for the past 10 years.
He also lamented the lack of electricity and water. He also called on the government to empower the students once they graduate from the school.
Mr Iliyasu Yusuf from Kano, said he applied to the school because of the quality of teaching student in the school receive, however laments about the failures of the micro finance bank that ought to help students with funds to start up saying they are not serious and failed in their promises.
Another student, Miss Aliheri John Angbashim, said she has learn much on crop production, fish farming, bee keeping, livestock rearing among other aspect of agriculture in the school within her one year stay in the school.
“I have gone through all the department too because we have about six departments, in engineering, i have been taught on several machines use in mechanised farming environment, and also on the value chain, I have been taught alots on baking among other things.
On payment she said: “ Payment? I don’t pay any amount to get in, in fat try are the ones paying me, they gave us free accommodation, feeding and monthly allowance for our upkeep and we are taught free for one year. And after the one year, we are encourage to go out and put all that we learnt into practice.
After the training
On empowerment after the training, she explained that the student were made to own plot of land, plant whatever they wanted, these would be sold and the money kept for the until after the graduation, the money would be given them to start something.